How to Practice Guitar Quietly (Tips for Acoustic and Electric)
Regular practice is the best way to improve at guitar. Being able to practice quietly will allow you to get more practice time in.
In this guide, I’ll explain how to practice guitar quietly whether you play acoustic or electric guitar.
There are a few ways you can practice guitar quietly. If you want to practice electric guitar quietly, you can use headphones with your amp or pedals. If you want to practice acoustic guitar quietly, you can mute or muffle it to make sure you don’t disturb others.
After you read this guide, find out how you can practice guitar without using a guitar in this guide. If you want to make sure you don’t disturb others, then read that guide for ways to practice in complete silence.
How to Practice Electric Guitar Quietly
If you play electric guitar, it is easy to practice it quietly. There are a few options and each one works really well.
Practice Electric Guitar With Headphones
The easiest way to practice electric guitar quietly is to play with headphones. You can practice electric guitar in complete silence by plugging headphones into your amp or multi-effects pedal.
How you use headphones with your electric guitar depends on what type of amp and pedals you use.
Most modern guitar amps will have a headphones output jack. Check the front, top, and back of your amp for a jack labeled headphones.
The below photo shows the headphones output jack on the front of a Line 6 amp:
Other amps may use larger 1/4 inch output jacks like the below photo:
With these amps (or multi-effects pedals) you simply need to use an adapter like the one below to connect your headphones.
The guide covers the best headphone options and how to get started.
Practice Electric Guitar Without an Amp
Sometimes you won’t have an amp with you. For example, if you will be traveling, you might want to take your guitar with you to practice while in your hotel room.
You can practice electric guitar quietly without an amp using a few different options.
The first option is to use a battery-powered portable mini-amp as explained in this guide.
These mini amps can be used with headphones or earbuds or turned down to a low volume that won’t disturb others.
Find out about mini guitar amps in this guide. The guide covers the best options and what to avoid.
Another option is to use a modern multi-effects pedal.
Most modern multi-effects pedals have fantastic inbuilt amp simulations that will sound just as good as playing with an actual amp.
You simply plug your headphones directly into the pedal and you’re good to go.
Check out this guide comparing different Line 6 multi-effects pedals for an idea of what to look for.
The final option to consider is a mini amp-sim device that plugs directly in your guitar.
The VOX AmPlug is a very popular device you can use to play your electric guitar quietly anywhere.
How to Practice Acoustic Guitar Quietly
If you want to practice acoustic guitar without disturbing others, you have a few options.
Dampen Your Acoustic Guitar With a T-Shirt
It is possible to significantly reduce the volume of your acoustic guitar by stuffing the soundhole with something to absorb the sound.
The way to do this is to stuff a T-shirt or two into the soundhole. The material will help dampen the sound and reduce the volume.
The downside of this method is that it’s a pain to get the T-shirts in and out of your guitar every time you want to practice guitar quietly.
I don’t recommend using socks as they are hard to fish out of your guitar compared to larger pieces of clothing.
Use an Acoustic Guitar Feedback Dampener
Placing a feedback dampener over the soundhole can help reduce the overall volume of your acoustic guitar.
This is a very cheap and easy option and is a very useful tool if you ever plan on performing live in the future.
What’s more important, the feedback dampener will significantly reduce the bass frequencies, which is what normally travels through walls and annoys other people.
So using a feedback dampener might reduce the volume just enough that it doesn’t disturb other people. You’ll still be able to clearly hear what you play, but it might be just enough to not annoy other people.
Use an Acoustic Guitar Silencer
A more effective option than a feedback dampener is to wedge something under the strings to almost completely mute them.
You can wedge a piece of foam, rolled-up towels, or buy a rubber silencer as shown above.
Think of this as an extreme version of palm-muting. You’re able to control how much you mute your guitar by how much foam you use and how close you position it to the bridge.
The advantage of this method is that it completely reduces the volume.
The disadvantage is that you may have trouble hearing what you’re practicing.
Buy a Silent Travel Guitar
The best option to practice acoustic guitar silently is to use a silent travel guitar.
Buying a travel guitar is a good option for people who travel regularly, but if you only want to practice at home quietly, its an expensive option.
The above photo shows a typical travel acoustic guitar. Without the hollow body of a normal acoustic guitar, it is as quiet as an unplugged electric guitar.
There are nylon string, steel-string, and electric guitar options available to suit your playing style.
These guitars allow you to play as quietly as possible, but you will want to plug in headphones for the best experience.
Use Palm Muting
If you want to squeeze a quick practice session in, but don’t have time to sort out a quiet area to practice in, your last option is to adjust your technique to play quieter.
Using heavy palm muting can be enough to reduce your guitar’s volume that it won’t disturb others. Slide your palm further away from the bridge compared to what you would normally use and you’ll almost completely mute your guitar.
While using heavy palm muting, you won’t be able to practice strumming patterns, but you’ll still be able to focus on fretting hand practice (eg: chords, scales, songs).
When done properly, palm muting can turn your loud acoustic guitar almost completely silent.
Practice Guitar in a Quiet Area
A big part of how quiet you can play depends on the area you play in. Playing in a tile or hardwood floored room will always be louder than in a bedroom with carpet.
If you’re worried about disturbing others while practicing guitar, look to play in an area that will absorb your sound.
One of my students told me that when she wants to practice guitar late at night, she sits on her bedroom floor and faces her bed so the sound waves go straight into her bed to absorb the sound.
Think of how a recording studio will have a padded booth to record vocals and how that absorbs the sound.
While you may not want to add padding to your walls to absorb the sound of your guitar, you can make good use of wardrobes, linen closets, or any small room you can use.
Also, keep in mind the proximity of your practice area from other people. The more walls and distance between you and other people, the lower your guitar’s volume will be.
Practice Guitar in Silence Without a Guitar
There’s another way you can get some good practice without producing any sound.
There are so many different things you can practice that don’t involve picking up your guitar and all of them will help you become a better guitarist.
Here are some examples of what you can practice in complete silence:
- Ear training (using an app and headphones)
- Learn to read music
- Learn music theory
- Memorize the notes on the fretboard
- Memorize new chords or scales
All of these things are important, so if you want to put some practice time in without disturbing others, they’re the perfect things to work on.
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